Agile marketing is not a marketing strategy but rather a management technique for executing a marketing strategy — getting the right priorities done.
Years ago, I spoke to a CMO that said, “I don’t invest in anything I can’t directly measure.” At that time, that basically limited him to email and search advertising.
Limited is the operative word because while measurements are important, you can’t directly measure everything, like the impact of creativity, and yet we know these things have value. That’s why attribution models are so vexing.
Anyone that knows me also knows I’m a big proponent of measurement. However, I think the marketing community has over-corrected and the more strategic marketers value both the art and science of marketing. This is why a new study by McKinsey is so important and why I’ve included it in this week’s Unscripted Marketing links [UML].
As is on the occasional Saturday, I offer three links I’ve vetted, wrapped in insight based on some 20 years of experience, and render them here for your consideration.
1) Creative and analytics as whole-brained partners
“I’m afraid the data people will win, and it will all become a commodity if brand and creativity don’t matter anymore. I’m afraid the creative process will lose its soul,” said one CMO but those fears are overblown. That’s according to a new study by McKinsey which says “the notion that creativity and data are adversaries is simply outdated.”
The study was authored by Brian Gregg, Jason Heller, Jesko Perrey, and Jenny Tsai. The analysis found “far from robbing a brand of it soul,” analytics, when combine with creative, is “an essential part of the modernization of marketing to drive growth.”
“Combining the power of human ingenuity and the insights gleaned from data analytics is a good start. But the best marketers are going a step further and integrating this power combo into all functions across the marketing value chain – from brand strategy and consumer insights to customer experience, product, and pricing to content and creative development, media – even measurement.”
You need both art and science and analytical creatives do three things:
- “They treat creativity and data as equal partners.”
- “They make integration a way of life through an agile marketing operating model.”
- “They seek ‘whole-brain’ talent” – that is both left- and right-brained.
Read more about the study here: The most perfect union: Unlocking the next wave of growth by unifying creativity and analytics.
2) Crutches, agile and marketing
While the McKinsey study references agile marketing, there’s a contrarian idea that has been going around for a while: agile marketing is a crutch for those that don’t have a strategy.
It’s true if you are just winging it. There’s no doubt in my mind that happens…there’s a dearth of strategy talent in marketing because, as a community, we’re too focused on just optimizing clicks.
But the headline loses important details, which Scott Brinker tied back down when he wrote, “Agile management is not a strategy. Agile is an instrument of strategy.”
“Agile management is a way to execute a strategy when either (a) the environment in which you’re operating is fluid and shifting, and you want to rapidly sense and respond to those changes, or (b) the media in which you’re rendering your strategy is malleable and has fast feedback loops — hello, digital world — giving you the valuable option to iteratively optimize your execution quickly and cheaply.”
I’ve always found that’s an effective approach – define the strategy – then iterate and improve on tactics. Read his entire piece here: Choosing between being strategic or being agile is a false dichotomy.
3) Metrics to measure creative and agile marketing
If creative and agile are both important parts of the marketing process, what are the gauges we should use to ensure we’re on the right path?
A study by Spiceworks and penned by Dillon Nugent, offers some insight in the section that describes the purpose of metrics. In fact, metrics are supposed to be directional indicators toward some larger marketing goal. If you’re metric is revenue, you will struggle, at least in B2B marketing, because it takes time to produce those measures.
According to the survey, the purpose of metrics marketers cited most often were:
- 79% said to optimize future campaigns
- 77% said to evaluate the most effective channels
- 62% said to measure the success of messaging
- 58% said to prove marketing success to the business
- 57% said to course-correct existing campaigns
- 51% to refine goals or objectives
- 42% to maintain or secure additional budget
The study makes much of the disparity between marketing and business metrics, but these should be different. While marketing metrics should be nested in (higher level) business goals, if business leaders are worried about engagement metrics – then someone in marketing isn’t doing their job. Read more about this study here: Marketers vs. Business Leaders: The Metrics That Matter.
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3 Studies that Challenge Marketing Assumptions [UML]